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30 Most Beautiful Places in California to Visit




California is one of the most beautiful places on earth to visit. Whether you’re interested in the beach, mountains, desert, snow, or cityscape, the Golden State is sure to amaze you. The diverse geography and breathtaking sights make California the ultimate destination for sightseeing.

If you’re visiting California, make sure you check out these gorgeous locations. Below is our list of the 30 most beautiful places in California to visit.

1. Emerald Bay

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Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a stunning destination, and Emerald Bay is a particularly gorgeous inlet on its western shore. The breathtaking natural beauty of this scenic bay appeals to campers, hikers, and nature lovers. Emerald Bay has been designated a National Natural Landmark.

2. Napa Valley

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Napa Valley

Napa Valley is more than just a bunch of wineries, it’s also one of the most beautiful places in California to visit. Nestled in between the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountains, this colorful valley is also bursting with life. The gorgeous landscape is lined with lush vineyards and tantalizing gardens.

3. Burney Falls

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Burney Falls

Burney Falls is an awe-inspiring sight within McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. Visitors can admire these 129-foot falls from the hiking trail then swim in the pools below. The powerful, dramatic waterfalls are a must-see landmark.

4. Pfeiffer Beach

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Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach is a fantastic spot to visit to see incredible rock formations and unique purple sand shores. Located in Big Sur, this unusual beach offers spectacular and rare sights. This gorgeous destination is also widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in California.

5. Mendocino Coast

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Mendocino Coast

Mendocino Coast is a delightful destination for nature lovers. The colorful flowers, scenic coves, as well as beautiful rock formations come together to form a visual masterpiece. Tide pools and wetlands in the area are bursting with life, which makes sightseeing extra thrilling.

6. Golden Gate Bridge

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Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most gorgeous manmade structures to visit in California. This landmark bridge is also known for its bold red paint and impressively long span across San Francisco Bay.

7. Joshua Tree National Park

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Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a beautiful destination ideal for campers and hikers. Lookout points throughout the park offer views of San Jacinto Peak, Coachella Valley, San Gorgonio Mountain, as well as the Salton Sea. Also, the Cholla Cactus Garden and Ocotillo Patch are lovely places to visit inside the California park if you want to observe desert plant life.

8. Shaver Lake

Source: Joshua Cates / Shaver Lake Visitors Bureau
Shaver Lake

Shaver Lake is a breathtaking location loaded with sandy shores, clear waters, snow-capped mountains, as well as wooded forests. Hidden in the Sierra National Forest, nature lovers consider this spot one of the most beautiful places to visit in California. The sights at Shaver Lake are incredible all year round.

9. Vernal Falls

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Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls is a thrilling natural sight located inside Yosemite National Park. This dramatic 317-foot waterfall cascades into the Merced River below.

10. La Tour

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La Tour

La Tour is a scenic lighthouse located on Laguna Beach in Orange County, California. This stunning 60-foot structure is also known by locals as the Pirate Tower.

11. Mono Lake

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Mono Lake

Mono Lake is an ancient saline soda lake that also features jaw-dropping limestone formations. The highlight of visiting this beautiful destination is witnessing the dramatic tufa towers rising above the crystal clear water.

12. Avenue of the Giants

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Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants is a lovely wooded highway, as well as one of the most empowering places to visit in California. This route through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park is lined with enormous redwood trees. Driving through the forest on this road is a gorgeous and memorable activity.

13. Mission San Juan Bautista

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Mission San Juan Bautista

Mission San Juan Bautista is a charming historic landmark that offers a ton of unique beauty. Located in San Benito County, this preserved mission is also framed by the beautiful San Juan Bautista State Historic Park. Visitors can also enjoy the serene natural surroundings and intriguing Spanish architecture.

14. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

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Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a breathtaking stretch of coast along the northern end of Big Sur. The powerful beauty, as well as thrilling liveliness of this area, is astounding. If you’re interested in spectacular views of nature, then put this destination on your list of places to visit in California.

15. The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

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Bristlecone Pine Forest

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is an impressive wooded area in the White Mountains of Inyo County. This destination is also home to a tree known as Methuselah, a 4,848-year-old bristlecone pine. Hikers and nature lovers will be delighted by the peaceful scenery in this ancient forest.

16. Badwater Basin

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Badwater Basin in Death Valley

Badwater Basin offers surreal views at the lowest point in North America, 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. Unique salt-encrusted basins, gorgeous peaks, as well as a vast, dramatic landscape, are highlights of this location. If you’re going to visit Death Valley in California, then make sure you stop by this extreme landmark.

17. Lassen Volcanic National Park

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Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a phenomenal destination to observe the beauty as well as power of explosive gas vents, boiling pools, and thermal mud pots. For adventurers with an intense side, this is also one of the most extreme places to visit in California. Seeing surreal geological features like the Devil’s Kitchen are worth the trip.

18. Hearst Castle

Source: Victoria Garagliano / California State Parks
Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is an opulent hilltop mansion that offers awe-inspiring views of architectural and natural wonders. Every room of this huge castle is also a sight to behold. The exquisite outdoor setting includes gardens, pools, and the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

19. Glass Beach

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Glass Beach

Glass Beach is one of the most unique and beautiful beaches to visit in California. The colorful pieces of glass scattered along the coast will also add a pop of color into your life. Although visitors aren’t permitted to take home any glass, taking pictures can be equally rewarding.

20. Cathedral Peak

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Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Peak is a beautiful as well as a heavenly portion of the Cathedral Range in Yosemite National Park. This peak was formed by glacial activity, which produced stunning and dramatic cliffs.

21. La Jolla Cove

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La Jolla

La Jolla Cove is one of the most exciting and beautiful places to visit in California. This destination offers sights of stunning sandy beaches as well as luxurious seaside mansions. Guests can enjoy lunch at a beachside restaurant while they admire unbeatable views of the Pacific Ocean.

22. McWay Falls

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McWay Falls

McWay Falls is a breathtaking 80-foot waterfall that flows directly into the ocean in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Although its nearly impossible to access the beach at the base of the falls, the view from above will inspire you.

23. Santa Barbara

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Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a lovely seaside city best known for its beautiful coastal views as well as Spanish-style architecture. The spectacular weather and amazing sunsets also make this town one of the nicest places to visit in California.

24. Channel Islands National Park

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Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park can only be accessed by boat off the coast of California, but it’s worth the effort to visit. These incredible islands will leave you feeling awed and uplifted. If you want to hike directly on the sea, then the Channel Islands are the perfect destination for you.

25. Mossbrae Falls

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Mossbrae Falls

Mossbrae Falls in Dunsmuir offers a unique and magical experience for nature lovers. This gorgeous waterfall is also the ideal destination to visit in California if you want to enjoy the beauty, adventure, and intrigue.

26. Bowling Ball Beach

Source: John Fowler / flickr
Bowling Ball Beach

Bowling Ball Beach is a section of Schooner Gulch State Beach with spectacularly strange stones on the shore. Smooth, round stones line the coastline during low tide, creating an intriguing sight. These beautiful spheres have been shaped over millions of years by gentle erosion in the ocean.

27. Muir Woods

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Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods is a sensational spot in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This lovely forest, packed with prestigious redwood trees, is also often covered in coastal fog. Tourists who visit this area can enjoy a pleasant hike and ample sightseeing.

28. Lake Berryessa

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The Glory Hole, Lake Berryessa

Lake Berryessa is a splendid sight to behold, and a must-see destination if you’re visiting the Monticello Dam. When the water levels are right, an impressive bell-mouth spillway called the Glory Hole is visible. This intense hole of flowing water will absolutely blow your mind.

29. Natural Bridges

Source: Bodey Marcoccia / flickr
Natural Bridges

The Natural Bridges of Vallecito will ignite your sense of wanderlust as well as inspire you to adventure. This formation, known as a karst, was created through the processes of erosion by the waters of Coyote Creek. Tourists who want to deeply explore this area are also encouraged to swim in the beautiful water.

30. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

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Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is an awe-inspiring, colorful stretch of flowers extending as far as the eye can see. These poppy fields are also a wondrous sight guaranteed to delight any visiting tourists. Make sure you also bring your camera to capture these breathtaking natural views.

John Ghost is a professional writer and SEO director. He graduated from Arizona State University with a BA in English (Writing, Rhetorics, and Literacies). As he prepares for graduate school to become an English professor, he writes weird fiction, plays his guitars, and enjoys spending time with his wife and daughters. He lives in the Valley of the Sun. Learn more about John on MuckRack.

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